A Unified Vision for Talent Management

If the Talent Management functions are not working together, collaboratively, under a shared vision, then the product is probably not as good as it could be.

By Richard Lynell

Once you have your organization’s environment(s) figured out, you have a starting point from which to build your Talent Management Team. I’ve been using the term, “Talent Management Team,” often in my articles, mostly because it’s an encompassing term that refers to the skills of attracting highly skilled workers, of integrating new workers, and developing and retaining current workers to meet current and future business objectives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talent_management).

However, this definition is not comprehensive enough. Talent Management also should encompass Human Capital—which is the stock of competencies, knowledge, and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_capital).

A holistic approach to Talent Management would be to put all these functions— Recruiting, L&D, OD, Talent Management/Development, Content Management (Knowledge), and Performance Management—under one roof.

Some will say that many of these functions already exist under one area, usually HR, but my question/challenge to those who say this is, “But is there a unified vision and an integration of how and why all these units work together?” I think the various functions of HR, just like any other division or department, “get tunnel vision” on their area of responsibility and lose sight of the impact their operation has on other areas.

Hence the need to not only put these functions under one roof but to have it exist by itself, reporting the C-suite because in order for this department to do its job(s), it must do so without office politics inhibiting it: “Sometimes to find the answer, you must remove yourself from the problem.”

If you been in the Learning and Development business long enough, I bet you’ve heard a story like this one. I had a client many years ago that brought me on to “fix” Training and Development. As he discussed the issues, I respectfully asked him if he could “prove it was broken.”

“Sure,” he said, “our employees are not meeting performance levels after completing training.” So, I asked him the following:

  • Is there data from Recruiting, by role, on the amount and type of education, experience, skills, industry, personality, etc., that narrow down the candidates to those who are the “best fit” and/or the “better performers”? If not, how do you know if you are hiring the right people?
  • Is there data from Training pre, during, and post to validate employees are or are not being trained to meet the expectations? Are the objectives of the training aligned with the expectations post-training? Note here that I’m not saying aligned with the business objectives because these are usually broad terms that need to be broken down into sub-objectives by departments, and then broken down even further to identify training and/or learning opportunities.
  • What resources exist for the employees when they are back on the job post-training? Are these resources validated by the expert(s)? How often are resources being reviewed and validated? How often are these resources being used? Is resource usage versus performance challenge being evaluated as part of the performance management process? If resources also include supervisors/managers, are these personnel being tested on their proficiency in the subject matter and are they up to date when other resources are updated, created, or eliminated?
  • Does your performance evaluation process remove or diminish the “subjective” part of the evaluation and focus strictly on actual data of performance by the individual compared to his or her peers?

My client stared at me and thought for some time, and then he “got it.” The same concept I’ve been sharing with you. Recruiting, Training, Learning, Performance Management, and the rest are not independent; they are interdependent. Much like an assembly line, employees pass through all of them to become a product. Note that I did not say an end product because employee development is a continuous circle. Changes occur daily in business, technology, life, etc., and these changes create new challenges and opportunities.

If the Talent Management functions are not working together, collaboratively, under a shared vision, then the product is probably not as good as it could be. You wouldn’t just add, adjust, or eliminate a part of an assembly line in a manufacturing environment without understanding its impact on the rest of the line; nor should you do the same with any of the functions I speak of in this article.

We hear and see a lot these days about preparing the organization’s employees for the future, but I can almost guarantee that few if any organizations know what skills, experience, and education are needed to succeed in the organization of tomorrow, much less what skills, experience, and education their employees of today have and what it will take to get them there. It’s an easy thing to say I want to fly to the moon; it’s much more difficult to swallow the cost, time, and effort to get there.

It’s just my opinion, and that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Until next time…

Richard Lynell has been in the training and development profession for the last 35 years. He has worked for both the U.S. military and corporate training, and recently became an independent consultant.

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